The Best of 2013: Looking Back on a Year of Blogging

[D]id you know that only a handful of Planned Parenthood affiliates have blogs, and we’re one of them? Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona is so lucky to have such a talented and devoted group of volunteer bloggers, and thanks to them, 2013 was a great year! Check out our favorite pieces from 2013, which we present below in reverse alphabetical order.

GarnerAndLawrence 150Tori wrote about two landmark LGBTQ-related Supreme Court cases: Bowers v. Hardwick, which affirmed states’ rights to outlaw sodomy in 1986, and Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down sodomy laws nationwide in 2003. First, we were all excited by Tori’s discussion of what happened during the 17 years between 1986 and 2003 to tip the balance in favor of sexual freedom. And then, in an exciting twist of fate, the Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act on the 10th anniversary of Lawrence v. Texas, just days after Tori’s piece was published! Can you believe that only a decade ago, states were allowed to criminalize sexual activity between consenting adults? We’ve come such a long way — although we still, sadly, have a ways to go toward securing true equality.

seasonalleRebecca is a long-time Planned Parenthood volunteer and a practicing pharmacist. She combines her interest in pharmacy with her passion for reproductive justice in her ongoing series Let’s Talk Contraception, which highlights different contraceptive methods and addresses common questions about birth control. Her most popular post this year was her piece about using the Pill to skip periods. Whether you’re interested in skipping a few periods or minimizing menstruation throughout the year, continuous contraception might be for you. What are the pros and cons to birth control methods that allow you to have a period just once or a few times per year? Is it safe? Is it natural? How many periods do we need, anyway? Rebecca’s answer is informative and fascinating!

tumblr_wattletonRachel conducted an interview with Faye Wattleton, Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s first African-American — and youngest — president. Her conversation with Ms. Wattleton covered a range of topics, including religion, race and racism, anti-abortion violence, and the progress the movement for reproductive freedom has made over the decades. The entire series is worth a look — but our favorite installment is part 2, in which Ms. Wattleton discusses the connection between her religious upbringing and the work she did with family planning. The thread that ties these seemingly disparate aspects of her background together seems to be the Biblical admonishment against judging others: “Judge not that you be not judged,” as she put it. From a childhood religious tenet to a guiding principle in her interactions with family planning patients, being nonjudgmental is a grounding influence in her life’s work.

PP entranceMatt’s favorite pieces included a post about the FACE Act, which was enacted by President Clinton to curtail anti-abortion violence at clinics. Unfortunately, its uneven enforcement meant that the law hasn’t always lived up to its potential — and some point to that misstep as a factor in recent violence against abortion providers. President Bush’s lax enforcement of the law might have played a part in the 2009 assassination of Dr. Tiller, an abortion provider in Kansas. Matt brings together some great reporting to give you an informative and insightful piece — it’s no surprise that RH Reality Check blogger and Crow Before Roe author Robin Marty encouraged her fans to “Read this now!”

breast-examAnna’s favorite pieces were those that tackled pervasive myths about vaccines, sexually transmitted diseases, and abortion. One of these posts dissected the origins of the claim that abortion can lead to breast cancer, which flies in the face of the scientific consensus. This idea is perpetuated by abortion opponents, who use junk science to promote their agenda. Unfortunately, despite a lack of credibility, this claim appears in mainstream publications; in literature offered to clients of crisis pregnancy centers; and in state laws that require pre-abortion counseling to include discredited warnings about a link between abortion and breast cancer. We all deserve accurate information to make informed decisions, but when ideology trumps science, we are robbed of this right.

Bonus: Stacey, our fabulous curator of links, put together a special edition of her regular Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown series, which rounds up the top stories of 2013!

Which posts stood out for you in 2013? Tell us about them in the comments!

An Internship With a Purpose

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is by one of PPAZ’s interns, Cassidy Olson. Cassidy is an Arizona native who was born and raised in Prescott. She is currently studying public relations at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and will be graduating in December. Cassidy has been interned in the communications and marketing department at Planned Parenthood Arizona, December 2010 through May 2011.

My internship in the communication and marketing department at Planned Parenthood Arizona (PPAZ) came about really by happenstance; however, it turned into something greater than I could have expected. As a member of Arizona State University’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), I participated in an event called “Shadow Day.” During Shadow Day, each PRSSA member was matched with a business in Phoenix to visit for a day to learn how the public relations department at each organization functioned. I had always been interested in the nonprofit side of public relations, so when I found out that I had been matched with PPAZ for the day, I was eager to learn more about nonprofit PR for a couple of hours. Never had I expected my short visit would turn into an internship lasting five months.

When I met Cynde Cerf, communication and marketing manager at PPAZ, I was in awe of the fact that she was able to manage the entire PPAZ communication department by herself. Because of this, when Cynde mentioned she was on the look-out for interns, I thought it might be a fun opportunity to learn a few things and help out. In all reality, the internship did much more than that for me. Continue reading

Learn How to Raise Your Pro-Choice Voice

Has the current assault on women’s right to choose and women’s health care made you want to take action to defend these basic rights? One of the ways you can do that is to become a Community Action Team (CAT) Volunteer at Planned Parenthood Arizona. If you’d like to help but you’re hesitating because you’re concerned about how well you would do talking about these important issues with people or legislators, I have good news for you!

Planned Parenthood has very good volunteer training programs that will help you feel confident and comfortable when meeting people. Also, new volunteers are always teamed with at least one other more experienced volunteer so you can learn by talking with, and watching, your fellow volunteers.

I have been volunteering with the Planned Parenthood Arizona CAT for three years and these training sessions have been really helpful. One of the training sessions I attended is called, “Talking About Tricky Subjects.” It is reassuring to know that just about everyone has the same concerns. What if I freeze up? What if I can’t remember a bunch of facts and figures to reel off? What if I just get mad and defensive? Continue reading

Apathy Is Not an Option

I was raised in a very conservative family- sex was not discussed openly, but you certainly did not want a reputation as a “loose girl.”  How that could happen was up to me to figure out, but it had something to do with boys.  When I got to college, it was the late sixties, and love, free sex and birth control pills were everywhere! How could I deal with these new freedoms?  I was excited by the ideas, but scared of the consequences if I made the wrong choices.  In the back of my mind, I was consoled by the thought of Planned Parenthood – somewhere I could go if there were questions or issues that I could never discuss at home.

I married and raised two daughters in a home where I hoped we could discuss most anything.  I always tried to convey these thoughts:  ask me, I love you, trust me, I will not lie, and if I don’t know the answer, we will find out.  Of course, mothers and daughters cannot always discuss everything without some embarrassment or judgement, so when they were away at university, I told them, “go to Planned Parenthood – they will always be there for you.”  Continue reading

Despite Being a Red State, Arizonans Support Choice

Tabling with VOX at Terry Goddard's rally at the UofA

Tabling with VOX at Terry Goddard’s rally at the UofA

I started volunteering for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona when I moved to Tucson for my sophomore year of college. I was drawn to Planned Parenthood because I saw in the organization a combination of two things I wanted to be a part of: pro-choice feminism and political activism. My first event was a crowd canvass at a local street fair. I was not the sort of person who regularly spoke to strangers, let alone asked them for their signatures on pro-choice petitions. But I quickly got over the awkwardness and discovered I loved it. People were overwhelmingly supportive and grateful for our presence. There were those who ignored us and moved on, but they were few and far between. I remember the men and women who smiled, not the ones who rolled their eyes.

The next few events I attended were much of the same. People were friendly and supportive. I kept volunteering for the rest of the year and began attending VOX (Voices for Planned Parenthood) meetings as well.

This past summer I returned home to Illinois to spend the school break with my family. Bored and unemployed, I applied for an internship with Planned Parenthood of Illinois, and a few months later got the job. Continue reading

Amanda Is Here Because Women Deserve Better Than Forced “Choices”

Canvassing in LD17 with David Schapira

Canvassing in LD17 with David Schapira

“She heads for the clinic and she gets some static walkin’ through the doors. They call her a killer, and they call her a sinner, and they call her a whore. God forbid you ever had to walk a mile in her shoes. ‘Cause then you really might know what it’s like to have to choose.”

I remember hearing those Everlast lyrics one day when I was a teenager. My thoughts were very different then, but I was at a different stage in my life. I was a devout Baptist.

As a doting follower, I felt that part of my salvation relied upon opposing abortion. What did that mean to me? That there were lost souls in the world “killing babies” and that it was my duty to stop this atrocity. It meant that I was right because I had the Bible and Jesus Christ on my side, and anyone who opposed me was blinded by Satan and obviously wrong. To be frank, I knew absolutely nothing about abortion; not what it truly was or the reasons for women seeking it. I opposed it because my faith told me to, and it wasn’t a big deal to me.

A few years later, I feel that I was given a dose of my own medicine. Continue reading

Marianne Is Here Because Sex Ed Matters

Volunteering at the PPAZ office

I believe in Planned Parenthood. I believe in reproductive freedom, the right to choose, medically accurate sexuality education for all people, access to all reproductive medical care options and, especially, freedom from harassment for women who make that choice.

I am here for Planned Parenthood because I remember my high school years. I grew up in Santa Monica, California and I was educated in the Catholic school system. The best part was this was the early to mid-’70s. There was still kind of a ‘hangover’ from the late ’60s to early ’70s with ‘free love’, ‘summer of love’ and Woodstock. The ‘hangover’ was evident in our high school. The school administration was unabashedly liberal. They actually believed that ‘sex ed’ should be more than just some put-upon phys ed instructor, usually the football coach, trying to maintain order amongst a group of giggling teenagers and passing on some hard-won information about reproduction, sexual intercourse, birth and STDs.

The administration set up a balance of courses that the students passed through at each grade level. Freshman usually started with just the regular catechism courses. These taught the church’s position with regard to birth control and the role of sexual intercourse inside and outside marriage. This was required; after all, we were a Catholic high school. Continue reading